Cultural Healing: How one suburban market is building bridges with food

It’s become somewhat of a cliché to say that food brings people together. But for many of Australia’s recent migrants, food really can provide a way of sharing their culture and maintaining an emotional link to the homeland.

This Saturday, the Addison Road community centre in Marrickville will host a night market showing off the food, craft and music of some of these people. Food from a wide variety of countries including Liberia, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Colombia and Iran will be dished up to hungry diners.

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According to the event organisers – a joint project between the Addison Road Community Centre Organisation (ARCCO), and the NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Surviors (STARTTS) – their aim is to ‘bring cultures together and support the small businesses of recent migrants and refugees’.

I’m planning to frame my piece against the ongoing refugee issue, a topic regularly covered in the Australian media. Just this week the PNG Supreme Court ruled the Manus Island detention centre as unconstitutional, making it a likely political battleground in the upcoming election and increasing the newsworthiness and relevance of my feature.

As various commentators and academics have noted, coverage of refugees in Australia is so often dehumanising (Bleiker et. al. 2013). We’re so used to reading about faceless boat people, crowded detention centres and the huge numbers fleeing war and conflict that it’s easy to lose track of the human side of the refugee issue. I also think its worthwhile to sometimes focus on more positive stories that cut through the doom and gloom.

My story will hopefully act as a success story that instills hope and optimism rather than fear in the reader.

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On location, I plan to do a few quick interviews with various stallholders. I expect they’ll be quite busy, so I’d also like to exchange mobile numbers and emails to organise a face-to-face or phone interview with one of the interested parties further down the track. This will allow me to hear their story as a recent migrant or refugee, to trace what they’ve put on the plate back to its origin, and to ask them about the connection between food, culture, and their new home in Australia.

I’d also like to organise an interview with the organiser of the market for a wider perspective, that looks towards the future of the event. My questions for this interviewee will provide valuable quotes for framing it in the wider refugee issue.

With more than 3,000 people attending and another 14,000 ‘interested’, the event is likely to draw a big crowd. Combined with the naturally photogenic nature of a food market, this story will be perfect for the online medium. As the iPhone camera is almost useless at night (the event goes from 4-9pm), I’ll bring along a digital SLR camera to take some good quality, high-resolution photos, which I plan to embed as a gallery.

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This feature would be ideal for websites such as the Guardian, Vice, or ABC Online who target a more ‘progressive’ and often younger, more politically engaged audience.

References: 

Bleiker, R., Campbell, D., Hutchison, E., & Nicholson, X. (2013). The visual dehumanisation of refugees. Australian Journal of Political Science, 48(4), 398-416.

 Word count: 521

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Self-realization: Sahaja Yoga meditation

Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi (Image source: http: //shrimataji.org/)

Sahaja Yoga meditation was founded by Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi who was internationally recognized for her contribution to humanity through a lifetime of work for peace and the wellbeing of mankind. It is the state of self-realization produced by Kundalini awakening and is accompanied by the experience of thoughtless awareness or mental silence. Shri Mataji charged no money, insisting that her lesson was a birthright which should be freely available to all. She advocates that there can be no peace in the world until there is peace within (Coney, 1999).

Kundalini (Image source: http://kundaliniproblems.com/kundalini_energy_what_is_it.htm)

Sahaja Yoga meditation started in India and England and there are now Sahaja Yoga meditation centres in almost 100 countries around the world. It has been introduced in Australia for 35 years. Hundreds of thousands of Australians have experienced the state of thoughtless awareness using the simple Sahaja Yoga meditation technique, which helps to reduce mental and emotional stress.

Story angle and interview:

My feature article aims to let the public know about what is Sahaja Yoga meditation and what benefits can get through doing daily meditation.

I will start the feature story by presenting the 35th years celebration of Sahaja Yoga meditation in Australia. The celebration will be held in 260 Liverpool Road, Ashfield, Sydney in 30th April. The theme of this celebration is “Meditation & Music”. I will make an interview with Richard Kennett who is the responsible person of this celebration.

Questions for Richard Kennett:

  • What is the aim of holding this celebration?
  • What are stories behind founding Sahaja Yoga meditation by Shri Mataji? And what is her aim?
  • Why it is free open to the public?

In the next part, I will focus on the Sahaja Yoga meditation class and its teaching content, benefits and effects on our daily life. I will participate in a local class in Mill Hill Community Centre, Bondi Junction in 10th May to experience what is meditation. Moreover, I will interview Clare Avoledo who is a instructor of the free class and participants.

Questions for Clare Avoledo:

  • Where does meditation centres raise money to maintain the normal operation of free class?
  • What is the aim of your centre? And what is the aim of meditation?
  • What is the characteristic of Sahaja Yoga meditation? And what are differences from other meditation?
  • What usually do during the class (the teaching content)? And can participants do meditation at home after this class?

Questions for participants:

  • What lead you to start meditation? And And What attract you to join in?
  • What is the most useful thing of the class? And does the class have any effect on your daily life?

There is an academic article that can be used as references to describe the function of Sahaja Yoga meditation, that is Effect of sahaja yoga meditation on quality of life, anxiety, and blood pressure control (Chung, Brooks, Rai, Balk & Rai, 2012) and there is an useful case study Influence of long-term sahaja yoga meditation practice on emotional processing in the brain: An ERP study (Reva, Pavlov, Loktev, Korenyok & Aftanas, 2014).

Target media and target audiences:

This feature story is about a kind of healthy lifestyle and it may fit the audience of Australian online publications such the Sydney Morning Herald or ABC news because they have the column about lifestyle, health and wellbeing. My target audience are people who are interested in meditation, who are under pressure from studies or works and who advocate a natural and healthy lifestyle.

 

Jing Yu

SID: 450083624

Word count: 585

 

References:

Coney, J. (1999). Sahaja yoga: Socializing processes in a south Asian new religious movement. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon.

Chung, S., Brooks, M. M., Rai, M., Balk, J. L., & Rai, S. (2012). Effect of sahaja yoga meditation on quality of life, anxiety, and blood pressure control. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (New York, N.Y.), 18(6), 589-596.

Reva, N. V., Pavlov, S. V., Loktev, K. V., Korenyok, V. V., & Aftanas, L. I. (2014). Influence of long-term sahaja yoga meditation practice on emotional processing in the brain: An ERP study. Neuroscience, 281, 195-201.

A commentary on an Upstart article Australia’s treatment of circus animals leaves a lot to be desired

This blog post aims to improve the scannability of an article “ Australia’s treatment of circus animals leaves a lot to be desire”, posted on Upstart, written by Katherine McLeod.

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A screenshoot of the Upstart article by Katherine McLeod

The headline of this article is clear and concise. This article also includes a lead which gives readers a brief and essential information to quickly understand the key points of the story. Using a lot of white space between paragraphs improves the readability of the article. It also uses hyperlinks to make readers get relevant information.

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A screenshoot of the Upstart article by Katherine McLeod

However, there are too many paragraphs and detailed information in the article making it boring for people who only have little time to scan. So I recommend using subheadings to guide readers get the most important information. This article only contains one picture in it. So, I strongly suggest that related pictures and videos should be included in to attract the attention of readers.

Tags are used on the bottom to make readers easily identify article categories. However, there is no sharing button. I suggest adding social media sharing buttons to indirectly increase the click rate.

( Jing Yu, SID: 450083624, Word count: 182)